Wednesday, 29 April 2015

From Stone to Sponge... or Going Soft in the Head!!

Colin bought me a present today...

So of course I had to try it out..

You may notice one or two are missing.....

I call it "quality control"; Colin calls it "greed"!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Dinner's Ready....

Dive in!

Caught snacking on the Ribble near Clitheroe, Lancashire!

Friday, 24 April 2015

We return...

If you have missed us we have just returned from a short break in Lanzarote.

Here are a few general photographs of the island...

Starting with the view from our accommodation.

 Local bird life...

It was very very enjoyable...

Lanzarote we will be back!!

More to follow when we get settled, including the largest barbecue we have ever seen...

Monday, 13 April 2015

Bird Brained...

We may not have "Oscar" the long-eared owl with us in England but we were happy to see this pair of Bullfinch feasting outside the window this afternoon...

Whilst in the background this Blackbird gathered nest materials..

Different country; same excuse for not getting on with the chores!!

Friday, 10 April 2015

A Spring in our step..

A short walk down the lane and into our local wood revealed a wealth of spring plants in flower..
This bluebell is likely to be a garden escapee!
Star of Bethlehem
Violets of all shades

Lungwort with a rather fine bee which we think is a Tawny Mining Bee

This unfurling braken is unfortunately growing in the middle of the path!
Cowslips everywhere!
And finally an unusual plant; Purple Toothwort. The photo is one taken a couple of days ago. Purple Toothwort is a perennial root parasitic plant, which  needs no chlorophyll to support its growth. It is usually found at the base of poplars or willows, in damp places. We spotted this one in just such a spot...
Purple Toothwort

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Oh what big eyes you have...

Oscar has been posing for Elizabeth again...

Who's a pretty owl then!!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Say No to Farm Wind at Nueil-sous-Faye.

We have known about the proposed wind farm at Nueil-sous-Faye for some time but today, in our mailbox, we received a request to sign a petition against the development.

You can see and sign the petition here

The development is for four turbines each with an overall height of 158 metres. For those of you familiar with our area of North West England that is the same height exactly as Blackpool Tower.

They are to be located between the villages of Nueil-sous-Faye and Pouant as shown on the map below.

The site is about 4 kilometres from us in Braye so we will be signing the petition...

If you want to find out more about proposed sites for wind farms check this link to the PDF document: Schéma régional éolien - DREAL Centre

Monday, 6 April 2015

A change from the Owl!!

This afternoon whilst grafting in the garden I spotted one of our local Kestrels hunting in the back field! Any excuse!!

It was some distance off even for the telephoto...

It had several runs out from the tree but finally managed to get some food!!!

It landed in the grass and came up with...

Times are obviously hard with the Owl about... (Look at the photo enlarged)

Big question 'What is it?' and how the hell does a Kestrel see that from a tree 50+ metres away?

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hibou Moyen-duc Video

Yesterday evening we were sitting in our living room and, as I glanced out of the window, I could see the Long-eared owl in the large willow next to the house.

I filmed it for a few minutes and managed to capture it preening itself ready for flight.

The light was fading and I was shooting through the double-glazed window and into the sunset so the image isn't as clear as it might have been but it is clear enough to show the remarkable preening ritual the owl went through...

Take a look....

Seconds after I stopped filming (the battery ran out!) it took flight but even if I'd still had the camera running I doubt I would have been quick enough to capture its take off.. I'm just happy with what I've got.

We feel so lucky and privileged to have this normally shy and secretive bird living alongside us and seeming not at all phased by our comings and goings about the garden.

Thanks to Colin for taking the time and trouble to prepare the video for publishing!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Raised Beds...

Our potager has never been the best at producing results because the poplar trees suck ALL the goodness from the soil. Last year we made a small test bed lined with plastic and well cultivated and had a great success in growing Butternut squash. (We are still eating them!)

This year we have gone one better... Two raised beds 4mtrs x 1mtrs

It won't dig itself Colin!!

Lined and ready for refilling with a mixture of compost, fertiliser and soil.

Filled (nearly)

The second one a lawn mower width from the first!

The completed installation ready for planting.

Having watched Gardeners World last night Monty Dons raised beds were full to the brim so we may add some more soil before we plant anything.

We have also reduced the overall size of the potager by about a third! The ground has been prepared and seeded with grass... The windmill is our attempt to stop the birds eating the seed...

Friday, 3 April 2015

A recycled access door...

The sides of our grenier are lined with terracotta bricks as part of the house insulation and there was no access to the 60cm space under the eaves. There are a couple of reasons why we now need to access this area and the ideal would be to install a small access door.

Can you buy a cheap small door in France? We have not found one suitable but thanks to Jean, who is having a new kitchen, one was available.

During the showery weather we have been installing the door. The worst part was cutting the hole... Despite making a small dust tent the terracotta dust went everywhere and the whole grenier was covered. 
 The door frame.
Expanded foam applied.
 Cleaned and with door attached
 A bit of added insulation.
 The completed access door.

So thank you very much Jean and Nick, your old kitchen unit door has been recycled. 

We have not used it yet...

It needs a good clean out of several years of cobwebs...

postscript: We now have a slightly better photo of our Long-eared Owl..

Guess our willow tree is its favourite place to sit. Today I got a bit of video of it preening itself.